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Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2004 12:15 am Posts: 153 Location: SoCal
I met up with Bullet on Thursday afternoon in Big Pine where Glacier Lodge Rd. meets the 395. After a few recent postponements due to weather, our Palisades trip was about to happen. After some last minute packing and route discussion, we finally hit the trail about 4:30 PM. We started our skin on a huge pile of avy debris. If you look close behind Bullet's backpack, you can see where the road has been plowed. The walls were a good 10'+ tall with all sorts of branches and tree trunks sticking out of the walls.
Thursday: Some recent slide activity was visible adjacent to Glacier Lodge:
Friday: We skinned till about 8 pm Thursday night and set up camp below below First Falls (elevation ~ 8500' ?').
Friday: Looking back down Big Pine Canyon from camp:
Friday: After finding the summer trail, we headed up to First Lake. It was at this point that we noticed the weather had started shifting:
Friday: On our way to Second Lake, it was obvious we were in for a minor weather event. Winds were gusting pretty good and it had begun to snow:
Friday: By the time we reached Second Lake (elevation 10,000') we were in almost white-out conditions and it was dumping. Third lake (10,400') was just a short distance away so we pushed on:
Saturday: We camped at Third Lake and awoke to bluebird skies and an awesome view of Temple Crag (12,999'): The wind was calm but that would soon change.
Saturday: Skinning up the face above Third Lake. You can't really tell from this picture but most of the trees were leaning downhill and missing all their uphill branches. Sure signs of avalanche activity, although, on this day, the snow was fairly stable.
Saturday: Continuing on in the bowl above treeline and just below the ridge to the glacier:
Saturday: Looking back down the bowl at our skin track. The next weather system was starting to roll in from the north:
Saturday: Bullet on the terminal moraine checking out tomorrow's destination: the U-Notch:
Saturday: We skinned to the south on the terminal moraine with a view of the frozen moraine lake:
Saturday: At this time, the weather was rapidly changing and we decided we should probably get back to camp:
Saturday: We descended the bowls in the trees in about shin to knee deep buttery powder. When you're descending almost 2400' of vert in snow that good, who wants to stop and take pictures? We both had ear to ear grins after that descent and only stopped to take pics of our tracks. About 6 pm, we encountered a slight break in the storm and skinned back up about 3/4's of the way for one last run of the day.
Saturday: Back at camp, the storm was coming in strong and Temple Crag was starting to disappear into the clouds. Not sure what the temps dropped to but it was pretty damn chilly and windy that night.
Sunday: Bullet heading back up to the Glacier on his way to the U-Notch.
Sunday: Bullet skinning out to the end of the terminal moraine:
Sunday: Bullet ascending the U-Notch just below the 'schrund.
Sunday: After some issues with the 'schrund, Bullet decides to descend. As I later found out, at the switchback on the right (in the shadow) he attempted to boot up the U Notch only to find himself wallowing in thigh deep powder and not making any progress. At that point, he started to skin again. You can see the skin track headed to the left under the 'schrund with a short switchback above it. It was there that the snow gave way exposing a gaping hole down into the depths of the 'schrund.
Sunday: Bullet booting the short distance back up to the terminal moraine
Sunday: We dropped the gully next to Temple Crag for another 2400' feet of bliss. This time, it was a little more wind packed but it had set up very nice during the day.
Originally, we planned on staying through Monday but after Bullet's 'schrund incident, we decided to bail on Sunday. The grins and smiles of the afternoon descent soon turned to frustration as the trip down the canyon was a total sufferfest. Being on skis, Bullet had it so much easier than I did being on a splitboard. Trying to turn in the thickest, nastiest, mashed potato crap over rolling terrain with a 50lb pack just wasn't happening. I eventually gave up trying to ride out and put the board in skin mode. I got out about 2 hours after Bullet but was greeted with the best damn cheeseburger I've ever had.
question: how were you planning on being able to cross the bergschrund uphill? and if you did, what would you do on the way down? just curious, as I have never done any glacier riding.
The ascent plan was to boot up the right side. That is typically the side that has the most connected snow bridge. When that failed due to the deep snow, I went to plan "B".
Basically, the technique I used was to look for a spot on the 'schrund where the snow looked least indented. This can typify a fairly complete snow bridge that hasn't collapsed. Since the snow funnels out of the U-Notch toward the center/right, I figured that would be the best approach. Sort of like when you pour sand out of a bucket, it forms a pyramid.
Then probe with the uphill pole to the side, side/front and front of where the next step is going to be. If it doesn't punch through with force, then there's a good chance you have good snow. You should then probe with the downhill pole to the front and front/side (downhill side). I had successfully probed the edges of the lower crevase by doing so. It's weird when your pole suddenly punches through. Kind of an "oh, shit!" feeling.
When I fell through, I had failed to fully evaluate the conditons. I had just done a kick-turn and taken two steps before I started probing. Dumb mistake on my part.
For the crossing on the way down, the plan was simple, when I get to the 'schrund area, go fast, stay light and let it run out down onto the glacier. No air required right now. But you don't want to be making heavy turns ontop of the snowbridge.